Restaurants are apologizing for dress codes that discriminate against Black patrons

Alyssa Newcomb
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Restaurants are apologizing for dress codes that discriminate against Black patrons

An Alabama bar removed its dress code policy after it was called out by many people on social media as being racist and offensive.

The Woolworth, a cocktail bar and bowling alley, called its previous dress code "lousy" and apologized to the community in a message shared on Facebook.

That dress code, which is still available on an archived version of the website, shows a long list of rules and snarky comments that critics said discriminated against the Black community.

Athletic wear, jerseys and "dirty or tattered" clothing were off limits, as was "sloppy or unshapely clothing," according to the dress code.

"You're an adult, dress like one," it said.

Sagging pants and any visible undergarments were also dress code violations. Skull caps, handkerchiefs and bandanas also weren't allowed. ("If you're a fortune-teller, prove it," the dress code said.) No hoods were allowed to be worn inside, either. ("Our heating system works fine, thanks.") No "chains, bulky jewelry, clock necklaces, etc.," were allowed, however the Woolworth said it would make an exception for war medals.

"Community is a core value of The Woolworth, and we want to be a place where Birmingham can build community. We are disappointed in ourselves for creating a policy that offends our fellow Birminghamians and makes them feel unwelcome and we appreciate you calling out our failure," the apology said. "We have listened to your feedback and we will find a nondiscriminatory way to ensure a sophisticated experience for our customers."

However, feedback on social media was overwhelmingly negative after the apology.

"I will never be coming back to your establishment again. You should have allowed someone to read over it before making it public. Sadly, it took people to call you out until you realize your mistake. " Sorry, not Sorry," one user said.

"What exactly is a sophisticated experience?" asked another person.

The Woolworth isn't the only bar that has had dealt with backlash over its dress code. Last week, Surf City Bar in Jersey City, New Jersey, said it eliminated its dress code after a woman interviewing at a hiring event called out racist "code" she said was meant to exclude Black patrons.

"We have made mistakes. We are listening and always learning," the apology said. "In the coming months, Surf City will review our staff, our organizational structures, and our culture through a lens of racial equity.

We have implemented a Diversity and Inclusion Policy and will conduct additional diversity and unconscious bias training," it added. "We have eliminated the dress code. But we will go further and do more."